Win, and you're in. That's the situation for tonight for the Philadelphia Phillies when they begin a three-game set with the Houston Astros.
After a few results went its way last night, Philly can clinch a playoff spot this evening with a victory. In fact, any combination of a win, or one Milwaukee Brewers loss will do the trick for it. It arrives in this series with three wins in its last four games — including a rain-shortened victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday. On the other hand, the Stros are quite literally playing for nothing tonight.
Can Philadelphia lock up a playoff spot tonight? Find out in our MLB betting picks and predictions for the Phillies vs. Astros.
Phillies vs Astros best odds
Phillies vs Astros picks and predictions
Various prop markets are attractive tonight, mostly surrounding fading Astros hitters. However, the uncertainty of the lineup Houston will field makes it challenging to play, so I'm going to look elsewhere for my best bet — and I'm going to back the Phillies early.
It's a broken record mantra, but it's still one that should be repeated: back the desperate team. Some go out of their way to fade teams playing for playoff positions to be sharper than the public. Time and time again, though, that logic is flawed as teams in these spots have won more often than not.
What's unique about this situation is that Philadelphia has its ace on the mound while the Astros have the strength of their pitching staff in the next two games following this one. You can't overstate the value of urgency for the Phillies to get this done tonight. They won't want to mess with beating a guy like Justin Verlander to make the playoffs.
I'm finding myself seeing the most value in the first five innings. My projections see a 15% edge there instead of just a 5% edge on the game, and I think the handicap backs up that view as well.
Aaron Nola has been pretty dominant this season, particularly early in games. This season, the best attribute for Nola has been successfully producing the lowest hard-hit rate of his MLB career while maintaining a fastball that makes for an elite strikeout rate. My numbers say they've faced 13 pitchers this season, ranking in the Top 10% of the hard-hit, strikeout, and chase rates. In those 13 matchups, they've only been ahead after five innings in three.
Opposing Nola is Lance McCullers. If you're going to get the Astros, he's probably one of the pitchers you'd like to see the most.
McCullers is still excellent, but he's not like the other two Cy Young candidates who make up the Astros staff's heart. McCullers has the fourth-highest walk rate among AL pitchers with at least 40 innings. It's a chief reason his xERA is well over three, pointing to an expectation of negative regression. The Phillies should be able to do a decent job of taking advantage of him. Over the last ten games, Philly has the second-highest walk rate in baseball.
Even if they aren't drawing walks, I think their newfound patience at the plate can force the issue to make McCullers throw pitches he may not necessarily want to. They'll likely need just two or three runs to cash for us in this one — I'm backing them to do it.
My best bet: Phillies first five moneyline (-110 at DraftKings)
Looking to bet on some MLB action? Here are two of the best bonuses* available:
A) New users at FanDuel can get a no-sweat first bet up to $1,000! Sign Up Now
B) New users at DraftKings can get a deposit bonus up to $1,000! Sign Up Now
*Eligible USA locations only
Phillies vs Astros moneyline analysis
Not only do I like Philly early, I like it for the game.
While it's not the best bet on the board for me, it's still an acceptable option at plus money. But, again, the "spot" of this one is very much in favor of the Phillies. Astros' Manager Dusty Baker hasn't been shy in using his three best pitchers in virtually three meaningless games. However, we may see him sit a few key players at other positions. If that happens, our position on Philadelphia is strengthened.
There's no consensus of trends that point the Phillies' direction here. It's a mixed bag of sorts, and that's partly why their full-game money line isn't my best bet. I believe the value of backing Philly early is stronger than the full game. My projections, as I've previously noted, say the same thing. I'd still take a stab at the full-game price here but wouldn't play it if it dropped below plus money.
Phillies vs Astros Over/Under analysis
I don't feel good about either side and won't play the total.
My numbers suggest that the Under is the way to go, cashing in around 65% of the time. When you look at the pitchers on the mound, that makes sense too. We have one dominant pitcher in Aaron Nola, who has a decent matchup. Opposing him, we get Lance McCullers. This will be McCullers' last start before the postseason and his first in a month. Obviously, he'll be focused on delivering a solid start. However, the counter to the Under is two-fold.
First, if either team jumps out to a big start, you will likely see a conservative approach from the opposing manager. By that, I mean arms that haven't made many appearances this season and thus are more likely to give up runs.
Sometimes the best bets are the ones you don't make, and that's definitely going to be the case for me in this market. If you're looking to target a side regarding a total, one of the best bets may be a derivative market, such as "no run scored in the first inning." Both of these pitchers are poised to get off to solid starts. You know about Nola, but McCullers has yet to give up a first-inning run in a home start this season. So if I'm targeting anything, that would be it.
Phillies vs Astros trend to know
The Phillies are 31-14 in their last 45 games, scoring five runs in their previous game. Find more MLB betting trends for Phillies vs. Astros
Phillies vs Astros game info
|Location:||Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX|
|Date:||Monday, October 3, 2022|
|First pitch:||8:10 p.m. ET|
|TV:||SportsNet SW, AT&T SportsNet|
Aaron Nola (10-13, 3.36 ERA): The ERA and overall record do not accurately reflect how good of a season this has been for Nola. For most of the season, he looked like a threat for the Cy Young. While some misfortunes took that way, he's still been pretty dominant. As we discussed at the onset, Nola has managed to rank in the Top 10% of K rate, chase rate, and hard-hit rate.
Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1, 2.38 ERA): At the onset, I talked about two things: an alarmingly high walk rate and an xERA that says regression should come. However, despite those two words of warning, there is still a ton to like here. For his career, McCullers has produced a 56% ground ball rate which is well above the league average. If he can tap into that as we roll down the final stretch, the Astros will be even tougher to handle than they already are.
Phillies vs Astros latest injuries
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Phillies vs Astros weather
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.